The Seattle Mariners are finding some success on the road, and perhaps some hope for the future.
The Mariners look to continue taking advantage of the Houston Astros on Saturday night in order to get their longest road winning streak in over two years.
Seattle (61-73) is headed for a fourth straight losing season, but it has shown some promise for the future while winning nine of 13 on the road.
The Mariners have won four games in a row behind a 2.25 ERA, and got the best performance on the mound of that stretch in Friday's 7-1 win at Houston.
Taijuan Walker , the club's top prospect, allowed one run and two hits in five innings of his major league debut.
Seattle is now in position to put together its longest run on the road since reeling off six straight wins from April 17-30, 2011.
Another matchup with the Astros, losers of 20 of 25 at Minute Maid Park, could be just what the Mariners need. They've won five in a row at Houston, allowing three runs and nine hits in winning the first two of this four-game set.
Seattle, though, is expected to give the ball to Joe Saunders (10-13, 5.09), who's 0-3 with an 8.31 ERA over his last four starts.
The veteran left-hander started poorly on Monday when he hit the leadoff batter en route to a two-run first inning. He was pulled after giving up five more runs over the next six in an 8-3 loss to Texas.
"It was one of those weird nights where I thought I pitched better than the results," Saunders said. "I've just been having some bad luck."
Saunders has split two starts at Houston, giving up 11 runs in 10 1-3 innings. However, he was credited with a 10-7 win in the most recent outing July 19, allowing three runs in 5 1-3 innings.
The Astros (44-90), owners of the worst record in baseball, have batted .189 and scored seven runs while losing four straight.
Juan Castro went 0 for 4 with three strikeouts Friday, but still has a .433 average in 10 games. Eight of his 13 hits in that stretch have gone for extra bases, including three homers.
The catcher is 3 for 6 with a double versus Saunders.
The Astros will turn to Dallas Keuchel (5-7, 4.82), who is 0-1 with a 4.12 ERA in three starts since returning to the rotation.
The left-hander turned in his best performance of the season Sunday, yielding four hits in seven innings before the bullpen allowed two runs in the ninth of a 2-1 loss to Toronto.
The offense let Keuchel down in his only career start versus the Mariners on June 10. He allowed two runs - one earned - in six innings while the lineup gave him one run of support in a 3-2 loss at Seattle.
|July 26, 2013||Mike Zunino||15-Day DL||Fractured left hamate bone|
|July 11, 2013||Nick Franklin||Day-to-Day||Left game - knee soreness|
|July 11, 2013||Endy Chavez||Day-to-Day||Left game - groin tightness|
|June 29, 2013||Dustin Ackley||Day-to-Day||Left game - thumb|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Right hamstring strain|
|June 24, 2013||Franklin Gutierrez||15-Day DL||Right hamstring strain|
|August 22, 2013||Max Stassi||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 21, 2013||Max Stassi||Day-to-Day||Left game - head|
|August 20, 2013||Carlos Corporan||7-Day DL||Concussion|
|August 07, 2013||Jonathan Villar||Day-to-Day||Left game - sprained hand|
|July 31, 2013||Brandon Barnes||Day-to-Day||Lower back tightness|
|July 27, 2013||Jose Altuve||Day-to-Day||Left quad tightness|
HOUSTON (AP) -- Mariners left-hander Joe Saunders would have preferred to keep going after throwing 86 pitches in Saturday night's 3-1 win over the Astros.
But considering the struggles of both he and his team, he will take it.
"We still won," Saunders said. "That's all that matters."
Saunders pitched into the sixth inning for his first win in nearly a month, and Seattle beat Houston.
Kendrys Morales , Nick Franklin and Dustin Ackley each drove in a run in the first inning for the Mariners, who had lost six in a row before the series against the major league-worst Astros.
Seattle will have Hisashi Iwakuma on the mound when it goes for a series sweep Sunday.
Mariners manager Eric Wedge saw plenty of room for improvement after the game.
"You'd like to keep going. I mean, we had opportunities," Mariners manager Eric Wedge said. "We played sloppy baseball in the second half of a baseball game.
"We had opportunities offensively and misplayed some balls defensively, (but) in the end we won the ball game."
Saunders (11-13) allowed an unearned run and six hits over 5 1-3 innings in his first win since Aug. 4 at Baltimore. The left-hander was 0-3 with an 8.31 ERA in his previous four starts.
"I still think there's a full moon when I pitch or something, because there is some crazy (stuff) going on in my games," Saunders said. "So it was nice to get a `W' for sure."
Matt Dominguez and Brandon Barnes had two hits apiece for Houston (44-91), which is headed for its third straight 100-loss season.
Dallas Keuchel (5-8) got off to a rough start, and the Astros never recovered.
Seattle jumped on Keuchel for three runs in the first inning. Morales had a run-scoring infield hit before Keuchel issued consecutive walks to Raul Ibanez and Franklin to force home another run. Ackley then made it 3-0 on a groundout that brought home Morales.
Kyle Seager also had two hits for the Mariners.
Keuchel had a nice outing after the rocky first, striking out eight in seven innings. He allowed four hits and walked two, at one point retiring 12 consecutive batters.
"He threw well," Mariners shortstop Brad Miller said of Keuchel. "He had a good stretch. I know there (on) my second at-bat he was starting to get into a rhythm, so obviously we're glad we jumped out early on him."
Saunders left the game with two on and one out, with Wedge preferring to go with Carter Capps for the right-on-right matchup with Jake Elmore .
"I wasn't happy about coming out of the game," Saunders said. "I'm never happy about coming out of a game. I thought I had a lot left in the tank, but he's the manager for a reason and he makes those decisions."
After Saunders left the game, Capps and Yoervis Medina each pitched 1 1-3 scoreless innings before Danny Farquhar finished for his 11th save.
"Saunders was a little erratic but controlled damage," Wedge said. "The bullpen did a nice job."
Houston had a chance to get back in the game in the second. Dominguez led off with a single and Chris Carter then walked before Barnes grounded into a double play.
The Astros loaded the bases with two walks, but rookie Cody Clark bounced into a forceout to end the threat, with shortstop Brad Miller making a key stop.
The Astros scored in the fourth when Barnes singled with one out and scored on an error by Franklin at second.
Houston went 0 for 8 with runners in scoring position.
"We just can't seem to be able to get the big hit," Astros manager Bo Porter said. "We've had plenty of opportunities and have had men in scoring position, but it just seems like the big hit is avoiding us at this point."
NOTES: Mariners SS Brad Miller has reached safely in 12 consecutive games. ... Astros INF Jake Elmore recorded his first major league steal in the second inning. ... The Mariners lead the season series 10-5, having taken eight of the past nine games. ... Porter said after the game that the Astros have recalled RHP Jorge De Leon and OF Trevor Crowe from Triple-A Oklahoma City. Both will be active Sunday.